And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. Isaiah 56:6-7 NIV
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:13-17 NIV
This morning a group of us gathered to pray for our nation, for the salvation of others, and for God to work in our lives. It was a sweet time of corporate worship and communion together. We who know Jesus as our savior and Lord, have incredible access to God because of the work Jesus has already completed on the cross.
In the year 26 AD, a Gentile worshiper of God was allowed to come to the outer courtyard of the temple complex to worship and to pray, but could go no further. Jewish women were allowed to go further and could worship in the court of women. Jewish men were allowed to enter further than the women, and the priests could be in the area where the sacrifices were made. The most Holy part of the temple was entered only once a year, by one priest, and only on the Day of Atonement, in order to offer a sacrifice for himself and for the nation of Israel
When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain that separated the Most Holy Place in the temple from the Holy Place was torn in two, from top to bottom (Mark 15:38). It signified that Jesus’ sacrifice opened the door – opened access to God in a completely new way. We can and should bring everything that concerns us to our Lord in prayer.
John quotes Psalm 69:9 telling us Jesus is zealous for God’s house, similar to the author of Psalm 24. He was angered by the Gentile court having been turned into a market – selling cattle and sheep, and the money changers were set up there too. People who traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover often needed to buy an animal for a sacrifice once they arrived, but the buying and selling, and the money changing should never have been in the Gentile court used for worship. So, Jesus made a whip, overturned the money changers tables, and drove the animals from the court.
Access to God – Jesus is passionate about Jews, Gentiles, all men and all women having the opportunity to have access to God. He died to provide that access. Christians are invited into the Holy of Holies, the very presence of God. Today spend some time in prayer. Use Psalm 84 as a guide and thank Jesus for the privilege you have of bringing every concern, every request, every praise directly to God’s throne.
By Grace Hunter